ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Behave In Dubai: National Customs, Courtesies, Norms and No-Nos

Updated on October 20, 2011

How to behave in Dubai? It is fairly easy to follow the behavioral norms in Dubai. They are basically the same as in most places, except that there are a few no-nos that you should avoid doing if you want to stay within the boundaries of good manners.

In fact, you shouldn't ask yourself the question, how to behave in Dubai, as this puts unnecessary emphasis on the ill-conceived notion that you have to adopt unusual behavioral patterns, or comply with customs and norms you are otherwise not used to. This is simply not the case.

Dubai is by now so used to the presence of foreign visitors that you won’t be blamed much for your accidental rude behavior - if you, at least, make the effort to avoid such behavior. Add to this the fact that you will meet very few local Emiratis in the normal course of the day.

How to Behave in Dubai

Don't stress yourself. Dubai is one of those places in the world where things tend to get done at their own pace. Much like in the Mediterranean if you try to hurry things along, the only person you are likely to upset is yourself. Keep this in mind as a good rule of thumb in general – aggressiveness and rudeness are not tolerated from tourists in Dubai.

Avoid shouting, swearing or making offensive hand gestures in public, to the locals, or really anytime - basically, if your mom would be ashamed of your behavior, the Dubai police are unlikely to take too kindly to it either.

Woman shopping in Dubai
Woman shopping in Dubai

Don't take too much interest in the locals, especially women. This includes not pointing your camera at random people in national dress, as this is considered an invasion of privacy. You are likely to see local women in the malls, although never in bars and rarely in restaurants.

Also avoid pointing your finger at people. The hands are often used to gesticulate while speaking, but pointing your finger directly at people is a major don't. Another thing, when sitting among locals, which is quite rare, avoid pointing the soles of your feet towards them.

Before entering the house of a local, you should remove your shoes. Do accept any hospitality offered, which often comes in the form of coffee and dates. Not accepting may cause offense.

Dubai man in national dress
Dubai man in national dress

More Customs, Courtesies and Norms in Dubai

If introduced to a local Emirati man, shaking hands with him is acceptable. If he is with a local woman (most probably his wife or a family member), you are not likely to be introduced to her, and even if you are, don't try to offer her your hand or, - even worse, - attempt the continental-style kiss on both cheeks.

People in Dubai normally socialize in single-sex groups, hence you may see groups of local men sitting on their own in bars, restaurants or cafés. Even weddings are segregated.

Another important point - if in doubt, do not mention Israel; such incredibly emotive topics are best avoided entirely.

What cannot be stressed enough is that public displays of affection are not acceptable anywhere in Dubai. If you are feeling amorous on the street, in bars, in clubs or in taxis, you are well advised to keep it to yourself.

The only exception from under this rule is men holding hands or with their arms around each other, which are most frequently seen among workers from the Indian subcontinent. This is a brotherly sign of affection that is perfectly normal and acceptable.

A Quick Recap of Dubai Don'ts and No-Nos

To recap the most important points with regard to customs, courtesies, norms and no-nos in Dubai, here are the things you should keep in mind.

  • Don't hurry things, don't be rude or aggressive.
  • Don't be loud, don't swear and avoid using offensive hand gestures.
  • Don't be too interested in locals, especially women.
  • Don't stare at the national dress, and don't record everyone on cam.
  • Don't point your fingers at or the soles of your feet towards anybody.
  • Don't keep your shoes on when entering a local home.
  • Don't refuse the hospitality of locals.
  • Don't initiate unsolicited interaction with people's wives or female family members.
  • Don't display your affections in public.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      4 years ago

      It was such a pleasure being a part of this wedndig! I love the images you captured of the rhinestones I so carefully placed on her shoulder and arm it was a lot of work! You did an amazing job they're such a fun, quirky couple and you can see it in the pictures!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Really good see the strictness of Dubai, but personally i don't think it's so strict as they can go for sex with with anyone there breaking up with their family. . Dubai is beautiful to see but its not strict.

    • Haunty profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hungary

      Thanks Ardie! I actually have an awesome friend from Kuwait, and despite everything they say about Arabic countries, it's not all that strict for women any more. She's pretty much free to do what she wants, is treated equal to a man, and although marriages are arranged by parents, she can totally decide whether she wants it or not. One thing to keep in mind, though, it's religion more than anything else that sets the norms of daily life.

      Nadia, if you see this, correct me if I'm wrong. ;)

    • Ardie profile image


      7 years ago from Neverland

      Wow, I never realized how strict other countries can be with their women! I was raised so liberally that I'd do best to stay home :) This is an amazingly beautiful hub.

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 

      7 years ago from Winnipeg

      Really good hub, its important to know local do's and don'ts when you travel. Thanks for sharing! Dubai looks like an amazing place to visit, nicely illustrated...Voted Up and Awesome!

    • Drjacki profile image


      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Great Hub...thank you so much. You draw attention to cultural differences of which we all need to be aware when traveling in the Middle East.

    • tracykarl99 profile image


      8 years ago from San Francisco

      A very informative and interesting hub. Some of these tips could be used to help people in the States with their manners! Nicely done! Beautiful pics, too:)

    • Eiddwen profile image


      8 years ago from Wales

      A very well presented and interesting hub.

      take care


    • jennysbus profile image


      8 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I recently holidayed in malaysia and there were a lot of saudi couples holidaying there too. They were holding hands in public and the women were taking there burqas off and on as they pleased and the girls wore makeup too.

      I haven't personally been to dubai but it sounds like times are changing with there strict cultural traditions.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)